Counting blessings and praying for a breeze
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I guess with the current heat wave spreading throughout Russia we should be glad not to be there????? Yeah, I'm grasping at straws on that one, aren't I??

I am praying that they'll open some windows so my poor little sweaty V won't melt! But then again, the killer mosquitoes may eat her up! The high in her city is to be 101* on Thursday!

She needs to come home to cool East Texas where our highs this week will only be in the upper 70's* that's a switch, isn't it!
Info on Infant Attachment
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Infant Attachment Checklist Copyright by Walter D. Buenning, Ph.D., 1999

Symptom Examples
Adoptive moms share examples from their children's daily lives. Just a few of these symptoms may indicate a problem. Please consult with an attachment therapist if you have concerns about your child.

*I have indicated (below in red) those areas where we had to work with D when she came home at age 11 months. It took about 2 months for her to become "normal" in most of these areas. She still has a rather high tolerance for pain. It took her probably 6-8 months before she would "hold on" in a normal fashion (#14 below) when we carried her. She would grasp our shirt at the shoulder instead of holding us back. This was probably the most painful transition for me emotionally, but I had to realize, she just didn't know how!

I wanted to share that these things CAN be and most times ARE worked through. The main thing is that you are prepared and educated beforehand and even though you can't help but take it personally and feel hurt and rejected REMEMBER the child doesn't KNOW how to love you back, they have to be taught and LOVE TEACHES LOVE.

Sometimes it takes more than love and your family may need attachment therapy and there is NO SHAME in that. Get your child whatever help they need. Again, prepare for the worst and hope for the best! We were prepared to deal with WAY MORE than what D presented to us and we were happily relieved.

On Dr. Buenning's website, you may download a pdf file and print this checklist as well as a separate symptom checklist designed for children ages 5 years & older.

Each symptom is on a continuum from 0-10. Individual symptoms may present from mild to severe.
  • 1. Cries; miserable all the time, chronically fussy
  • 2. Resists comforting or nurturance
  • 3. Resists or dislikes being held
  • 4. Poor eye contact or avoids eye contact
  • 5. Flat, lifeless affect (too quiet)
  • 6. Likes playpen or crib more than being held
  • 7. Rarely cries (overly good baby)
  • 8. Angry or rageful when cries
  • 9. Exceedingly demanding
  • 10. Looks sad or empty-eyed
  • 11. Wants to hold bottle as soon as possible
  • 12. Stiffens or becomes rigid when held
  • 13. Prefers being held with back toward mother
  • 14. Does not hold on when being held (no reciprocal holding)
  • 15. When held chest to chest, faces away
  • 16. Does not return or reciprocate hugs
  • 17. Generally unresponsive to parent
  • 18. Cries or rages when held beyond his wishes
  • 19. Overly independent play or makes no demands
  • 20. Reaches for others to hold him rather than parent
  • 21. Little or reduced verbal responsiveness
  • 22. Does not return smiles
  • 23. Shows very little imitative behavior
  • 24. Prefers Dad to Mom
  • 25. Gets in and out of parents lap frequently
  • 26. Physically restless when sleeping
  • 27. Does not react to pain (high pain tolerance)
A new change in Russian Adoption . . .
From the US Embassy - Moscow Website

As of Monday, June 18, 2007, the Embassy’s standard processing time for adoption visas will be two business days.

As we adapt our procedures to more effectively incorporate the security screening steps required under the laws of the United States, we see this change as a key improvement in providing consistent, timely service to our customers.

Application documents will continue to be accepted at the Embassy from 9:30 to 11:00 AM on regular business days. However, beginning on Monday, June 18, 2007, families will not be scheduled for interviews at 2:00 PM on the same day as documents are submitted. Instead, families will be scheduled for interview on the following business day at 2:00 PM. Ordinarily, families will be issued the visas and immigration documents following the interview. However, we cannot guarantee that visas will always be provided at the interview due to the occasional need for additional processing and/or screening. Therefore, the Embassy requests that you make flexible travel plans, which take such possible delays into account.
It's Been One Year
Thursday, May 17, 2007
It has been one year since our agency's along with a big percentage of the other US agencies' accreditation expired.

Maybe this is a magic time of year for getting things done in Russia? Maybe accreditation is on its way again? I sure hope the rumor is true that accreditation will be valid for more than one year at a time from here on out!

There are rumblings on FRUA Chat with activity beginning at many of the (un-named on FRUA) agencies. Some people who have had their dossiers held by their agency for months are seeing them being sent at this time for translation. I really think we'll hear one day soon that an agency has received their accreditation. Once we hear the first news, I think the others will come along soon - including ours!

We've gotta believe, what else can we do??
Good News Wednesday
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
  • My step-mother has been in the hospital for over three weeks following back surgery. They had found a mass on her pelvic bone but the doctor came in this morning and it is NOT MALIGNANT!

  • I finally broke 20 pounds lost! I've officially lost all the weight I've gained since coming home from our meeting V trip March, 06. I had gained 20.5 pounds since we returned.

  • There is a "soft rumor" bit of news on FRUA that some regions are starting to give referrals and court dates based on the impending accreditations. This has to be good news.

  • Our dossier has been received in Austin via Fed-Ex - all 2 pounds of it. So, I guess it'll weigh 4 pounds when it comes back??

  • My gardenia bush is flowering for the first time ever. It's been out there for 3 years!

  • I'm sure I'm forgetting something. . .
Letter to Secretary of the State of Texas
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
A personal letter to Secretary of State Roger Williams and staff

May 15, 2007

Dear Mr. Williams and staff,

I am sure it is not often you are able to see the face of the child you are helping to come home by providing these seemingly never-ending apostilles. So I wanted to share with you a picture of our sweet V who is living in an orphanage in ____, Russia and to thank you for your part in helping us bring our daughter and new sister home where she can enjoy the benefits of a loving family.

We have been waiting on our courtdate in Russia to adopt V for over 15 months now and we are on our third dossier. I have lost count of the number of apostilles we have had to request for this adoption. I want to thank you for always being timely in producing and returning the apostilles to us. Each time we are asked for updated paperwork, we feel an urgency to get it done as quickly as possible.

We also want to express our gratitude for the $100 maximum that is required per adoption. If not for this cap, we would have spent thousands of dollars on apostilles for V’s adoption. We very much appreciate this gesture by the state of Texas and your office.

The Y family


To my blog readers,

My Mama always taught me that you can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. I'm sure the people at the SOS sometimes feel overburdened by the number of adoption apostilles they must produce each day. Sometimes it helps (not just oneself, but those coming after) to take a moment and share a kind thought. I know most families do not have a picture to submit with their apostille requests, so hopefully V's sweet face will help keep the Texas SOS motivated especially as accreditations come soon and their jobs will no doubt become more stressful as the number of requests come pouring in.

So, I thought I'd share with you the letter I have sent to the SOS with our latest request for 56 apostilles!! Sorry you don't get to see the picture of V's sweet face! Maybe soon!

I survived
Mother's day and our 12th wedding anniversary fell on the same day this year. It was hard for me to remember and grasp that it was also our anniversary. I'm glad the two don't fall on the same day very often, I don't like it.

The hardest thing on Sunday for me was the baby dedication time. Every year on mother's day at our church, the babies who have come during the year since the last mother's day are all dedicated to God. In our denomination, we do not baptise babies, but we do a little ceremony where they are dedicated to being raised in a Godly home.

Anyhow, it was hard for me to see all these babies who have been conceived, and born during the amount of time that we've been waiting for V. This is the second mother's day I've missed since meeting her and waiting for her.

But, for the good stuff:

D made me a little poster and rolled it up like a scroll and hid it under my bed. First thing Sunday morning she ran in and got it and gave it to me. I hung it in my "gallery" which is the walls of the laundry room. I got a big baby powder scented candle to keep in V's room. For my anniversary I got flowers (delivered on Friday) and we went out to dinner Sunday night at Red Lobster to celebrate both mother's day and as D told her grandmother on the phone "our" anniversary - too cute.

Oh how I hope we hear some good news this week that SOME agency has been granted their accreditation! Just knowing that someone has got it will be encouraging.
Mother's Day is Hard
Friday, May 11, 2007
When I was 13 years old my mother passed away as a result of battling cancer. She was about 35 years old when it first appeared and she fought it for nearly 8 years.

So from 1980 until 2001 Mother's day was horrible for me. That's 21 years.

I hated to go to church on Mother's day. It was just a huge reminder to me that I didn't have one.

In 1980 people didn't have cam-corders. So I have no video of my mother. We had one little cassette tape with her voice recorded, she said about 1/2 sentence and then laughed. The last time I heard it was at my sister's house around 1993, I have no idea where it is now.

I can't remember her voice. Some nights I go to sleep begging God to let me dream of her, just so I can hear her voice. In my dreams I can remember.

My Mama was beautiful and stylish and very fun. Of course she was young! Younger than I am now when she first discovered she had cancer, can you imagine!?

From 1980 to 1995 I hated Mother's day. Of course, my dear close Aunt Joyce who was my "other mother" got my mother's day attention and cards and such. Aunt Joyce passed away last August.

But in 1995, Mother's day wasn't as sad. It fell the day after my wedding that year - May 14. So of course thinking of Mother's day was FAR from my mind on that day.

November, 1995 started 6 more years of dreading Mother's day. Six years of double whammy on Mother's day. Missing my mother and wanting more than anything to become a mother myself. All I have ever wanted to be from the time I was a little girl, madly devoted to my baby dolls, was to be a mother.

As a minister's wife, I am pretty much expected (by many) to be in church every time the door opens. But I didn't do Mother's day and my husband completely understood.

Mother's day 2002 was a bittersweet day. I had believed that since I was finally D's mother, that the day would be ok. It is worlds better than it has ever been since 1980, but there hasn't been a Mother's day without tears for me in 27 years.

A girl never outgrows needing her mother - never. When I was sick last week, I would have given anything to have my mother come and take care of me. When I endured 4 miscarriages, I needed her so much. When Daria became my daughter on October 12, 2001 I so wish I could have called my mother. Sometimes I pray to God and ask Him to please tell her.

This year on Mother's day, I thank God that I am D's mother. I feel in my heart that I am already V's mother, too. I am constantly begging God to allow V to come home so I can begin a lifetime of taking care of both the girls until my last breath. This year on Mother's day, mine and hubby's 12th wedding anniversary falls on the same day. I'm finding it hard to seperate the two and find joy for both. Mother's day is overshadowing my anniversary this year and I kind of regret that the two fall on the same day.

I try to find enough joy in Mother's day to put on a good face for Daria. I AM so thankful to be her mother, but in my way of thinking, I feel October 12 is more Mother's day for ME, the day the judge said "Da." And I so look forward to finding out what my second Mother's day date will be. I sure hope it's soon.

Mother's day is hard.
Sock Drive Update:

As of yesterday Alek's grand total so far is 1030 pairs of socks.

He has more than doubled his original goal of 500 pairs. He will be collecting through the end of May so keep them coming. He loves getting all the mail, and has received socks from 16 different states so far.

** edited to add - if you click on the title of this blog-post, it will take you to the original Sock Drive post with the mailing instructions :O)
Lily Pad Cookies and Cover Girl Photo Shoot
Wednesday, May 09, 2007

D's kindergarten class has been studying frogs and toads this week. So, for the field trip tomorrow, we made Lily Pad Cookies to share with her friends.

Our church has a quarterly magazine that is published for our members and the community and today, D and our Youth Pastor's son ,I, had their pictures made for the cover of the magazine. They were so cute. This is in the backyard of one of our church member's home - isn't it gorgeous? I shot a few pix in between the photographer's.

Full Circle for D
In this post on Tami's blog she displays a photo and talks about how moving it was for her to see her son, adopted as a young toddler, walking once again on Russian soil.

I know exactly how she felt taking that picture. I can vividly remember how I felt so moved when I took these pictures of D and her daddy walking in the Russian snow when we went to meet V. A comforting feeling knowing that you've brought them back to revisit their homeland, and that the child is so proud to be Russian and American. But at the same time knowing that they are fully and completely your child.

Free Formula
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I don't know how many of my readers can use this offer, but I ordered it to give to a friend (I think it's the earlier baby stage rather than the later stage). Wow, you can't beat FREE!

If you register at or already are registered there... once you login click on the happy mother's day link in the top right hand corner it'll load a page wih a video you can watch or skip intro the the next page loaded click get offer (or something like that) and it will load a page with two offers one a code for a free 12oz can of nestle gs natural formula and another for right start toys etc. if you copy that code and click the link to you can buy a 12 oz for free no shipping or anything and it will be at your house in a few days. Each code can only be used once per mailing address. Hope this helps some people out. Good luck - offer good till 5-31-07
From Virginia Citrano on Russia Adoption Blog:

Lisa Finneran and her husband Mike are just back from visiting 12 Russian orphanages and they think $1 can go a long way. Especially if they get one million of them.

On their recent trip, during which the couple saw where nearly 1,200 Russian orphans live, has inspired them to take their efforts to the next level, by raising $1 million, one dollar at a time.

"There were faces there that will stick with me forever," says Lisa, a journalist and mother to twins adopted from Russia in 2003 and a bio surprise baby. "I wanted to do something to make their lives better." And to the Finnerans, improving orphanage facilities is the best way. One hundred dollars will buy two beds for an orphanage; $1,000 will buy a washer and dryer.

Lisa Finneran says she learned to distinguish an orphanage's quality by its smell. "If you smelled cabbage, it was an average orphanage. If you smelled blini, it was a wonderful place. If you smelled human waste, it was pretty bad."

Thanks to the power of the Internet, the Finnerans have been able to revamp the ArkAngels Web site to collect donations as small as one dollar. The funds are collected by PayPal (you don’t have to be a PayPal member to use it) and will be routed to Children's Hope Chest, a Colorado-based outreach organization that has NGO status in Russia.

As ArkAngel collects its dollars (you can watch the countdown on Lisa's blog), Lisa can't shake the memory of one little girl she met. "Olga ran after me in the snow and just started sobbing," Lisa says. "I had to take her arms and put them away from me and tell her everything would be OK and walk away."

So . . . got a $1??

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Speaking of "Being Where Your Feet Are"
Monday, May 07, 2007
A thought for all the wait-ers
Every time I talk to our casemanager during this long waiting time, he always encourages me to keep living in each day, not wishing the days away to get closer to bringing V home.

So, when I read this, from a waiting China family's blog, I just had to share it. This will become my new daily motto - and I may just have to go shoe shopping now, too!!

Click here ---->
So Sick
I haven't been this sick in a long time. Friday morning, I got up to get D ready for school and everything was just fine and completely normal. At about 8:30 it's as if a giant dump truck unloaded a ton of coughing bricks over my head. I don't know if I've ever coughed this hard or so much! It was just in my lungs until yesterday and then it moved up into my head as well.

I completely "lost" Saturday, I just slept most of the day.

I've got a doctor's appointment this afternoon to get something to help kick it. Ugh, today it reminds me of the congestion I come home from Russia with (3 of the 4 times I've gone). Not fun.
Two Years
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Today marks the two year mark of starting this adoption. May 2, 2005 we began in earnest (we actually sort of began December, 2004).

So happy anniversary to us - whoop dee doo.
Bawling My Eyes Out . . .
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
On a whim I decided to go check the Russian Data Bank site.

They've updated the picture of V!! The last time I looked, about a month ago, it was still her tiny newborn-ish picture.

She is SO BIG! She looks like she has chicken pox marks too :o( . Oh, my heart is just breaking into a bazillion pieces. She has grown so much.

Y'all please pray for me! I guess I've been in a denial - kind of numb place. Every day, around the house, looking at the pictures of us together was carrying me through. But seeing her growing so much without us is about all I can take.

I'm just shaking. Hubby has already gone to bed, I may have to wake him.
Oh My Goodness!!!
I just realized yesterday was my blogiversary!

One year ago yesterday I started this blog whining my butt off about the Looooooonnnnngggg wait we had endured at that point - a whopping 7 weeks!!

Mwahhh-ha-ha-ha-ha (evil laugh at myself)

Oh boy, if only I'd known then what I know now - right?
Some pix of life as we've been living it lately . . .

See a couple posts below for D's lightening bug play pix!

Here is D at the zoo field trip w/her Kindergarten class. She is holding a bird on a stick. This was one of her favorite things at the zoo. They give you a popcicle stick with bird seed "glued" to the end and the birds just hop on and go for a ride while they eat.

This is such a cool zoo! They let you bring the animals home with you! I chose a giraffe.

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